Mobile Social Entrepreneurs

January 26, 2010

Where are you?

I am keen to find examples of social entrepreneurs that use mobile technology – they could be called “mobile social entrepreneurs” .. but where are they?

I am not talking about social entrepreneurs who use a mobile phone to make things happen or use a mobile broadband dongle to run a business.  I am talking about social entrepreneurs who create businesses that are socially beneficial and based on mobile technology.

Mobile Social Entreprenuers and BSX

The example that I often hear quoted is the fisherman who accesses fish prices in different local ports via a mobile phone service, in order to set his course back from a fishing trip and maximise his income.  I guess the person who set up and is running this “fish price service” is a mobile social entrepreneur.  This story and others are featured on the EPROM website page – Why Africa?

There are many example where mobile technology is being used for social change – see mobileactive.org but it is harder to find examples of where mobile technology is the basis for social entrepreneurship.  Any examples, please let me know.

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My first blog of 2010 has been inspired by the announcement of the Nokia $1,000,000 Growth Economy Venture Challenge.   Details of the challenge can be found here: calling all innovators.   Nokia CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, made the announcement at CES 2010 in Las Vagas, and said that it was possible to do good business and do good at the same time.  That does sound like social entreprenuership to me!

The Betavine Social Exchange was set up for that very same purpose, bringing together community groups with needs and those that understand mobile technology that can help solve the need in a sustainable way i.e. building a local business.  Our somewhat more modest Chembe Challenge, launched just before Christmas, focusses on a specific issue, personal security in poor urban areas, and is offering funding for local entrepreneurs to build a sustainable business whilst offering a valuable service.

We hope to be launching new challenges in the near future that address different areas of need but all will seek to support local enterpreneurs to develop and deploy sustainable solutions for local markets.

There seems to be a lot of work going on in the area of “Mobile Technology & Social Entrepreneurs”, see crowdtalk on delicious – just started but building more links every day.  I spoke with Vincent d’Allant from the Skoll Foundation recently about Social Edge,  and he was keen to find more examples of where mobile technology had been used by social entrepreneurs.  I am sure there are lots of examples and with Nokia giving away a million dollars I am sure we will see more examples in the near future.

The key thing for the Betavine Social Exchange is that the solutions are sustainable, after the intial injection of prize money.

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